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7/10 I've only read very few of Jung's and Freud's abstracts of work but i've always been interested in knowing a bit more. A Dangerous Method cleared some of my questions and was pleasant for me to watch and learn a thing or two about their contributions and contradictions in psycho-analysis.5 years ago
What is emphasized in this film is their well known "disagreement" on sexual activity (libido) and apparently religion. Something that's been brought here by a female patient of Jung, Sabina Spielrein -played by Keira Knightley, who's been diagnosed with hysteria and was admitted to Burgholzli Clinic in Zurich in 1906. Michael Fassbender (Jung) and Viggo Mortensen (Freud) both performed seriously and insightful and Knightley captured pretty well the behavior of a hysteric person and then, her transition through therapy.
The German locations where the filming took place were picturesque and the atmosphere was warm, theatrical, peaceful enough but rather slow at some points. The intense relationship between the Austrian neurologist and the Swiss psychiatrist was very interesting to watch nevertheless.
The reason i enjoyed this film is simple: It was exactly what i was expecting it to be. Educational. And the fact that a talented cast did their best to bring out on the screen such facts, has left me a satisfied watcher full of interest and food for thoughts.
There's Something Missing Here...
6/10 I must admit, going into this film, I was rather excited; I've enjoyed both of David Cronenberg and Viggo Mortensen's previous collaborations and my interest in both Freudian psychology/psychoanalysis and Michael Fassbender practically guaranteed that I would be seeing this film. I fear now, however, that my expectations may have been a bit too high.5 years ago
I must admit, however, that I thought that Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen played their roles very well, although Mortensen definitely didn't receive as much screen time as he deserved. Vincent Cassel definitely shone in his extended cameo as Otto Gross. I did have some issues with Keira Knightly's acting, however. I feel like she may have over exaggerated her actions, particularly in the beginning scenes where she is in the midst of hysteria.
However, my real problem with this film is that, for lack of a better term, it all seems a little too shallow. Events that should be important are skimmed over and not explained; to be honest, it doesn't particularly seem like anything of real importance happens in the film. The characters have little depth; despite the fact that they are all playing rather well known persons, there simply isn't anything to them other than a name. On top of this, despite what the taglines of the film and trailer seem to suggest, the relationship between Freud and Jung is hardly explored. For the most part, their scenes involve reading letters from the other. This is hardly compelling viewing.
Overall, I feel like this film would have been better if it had been longer. If the film had a running time of even two hours, compared to one and a half, more character development could have been inserted, particularly for Freud. In addition, more focus on Jung's relationship with Freud, rather than his relationship with Spielrein, would have been nice to see.
Here's hoping that any future collaborations between Cronenberg and Mortensen pack a bit more of a punch.
5/10 As a long admirer of David Cronenberg, I eagerly await each of his new films as if I am a young child on Christmas Eve. When announced that his new film, A Dangerous Method, had him working with Michael Fassbender and (for a third time) Viggo Mortensen, two of my favorite actors, as well as Keira Knightley and Vincent Cassel, I thought I must have been dreaming. Adding on that the film was going to be an exploration into the relationship between Carl Jung (portrayed by Fassbender) and Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), the gods of psychoanalysis, and this had the makings for Cronenberg's masterpiece. So one can only begin to imagine my dismay when, after a promising first act, A Dangerous Method turned out to be the most inordinately tame and pedestrian Cronenberg film in over thirty years.5 years ago
David Cronenberg made a name for himself in the film community thanks to his studies into dark, controversial topics of sexual obsessions and fetishes, so a story depicting the works of Jung and Freud seemed like a perfect fit for him, and I was hardly able to process how lazily he approached the minds of these men. The first act felt like punch after punch (in a good way), with very stern, rapid dialogues detailing the sexual desires of Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), a new patient of Jung's. Despite Knightley's hilariously hammy performance, which had me close to fits of laughter every time she unhinged her jaw or thrashed about the room hysterically, each scene sizzled with sexual tension and was nailed with precision by Fassbender's stoic portrayal.
Anyone who knows the history of the story (or has seen the trailer) knows that Jung and Spielrein eventually engage in a sexual relationship of their own and I believe the release of this tension between the two of them is where the film starts to fall of it's axis. After the incredibly intense and erotic first act, featuring a scene where Jung runs a test on his wife (Sarah Gadon) that is as gripping as anything in cinema this past year, the whole thing begins to fizzle out when that tension is released and it only becomes more and more flat as it goes on.
Whenever Jung and Freud are in the same room together the film begins to light back up, as Fassbender and Mortensen engage in a tete-a-tete for the ages, both men succumbed by their intelligence and arrogance to the point where they refuse to see the other as their equal despite their claims to be doing just that. Watching these two marvelously talented actors bounce of each other, it's devastating that the rest of the film couldn't measure up to their skill, and that half of their scenes interacting together are done through them opening notes from one another. The story spreads it's time (quite distractingly) between the Jung/Freud dynamic and the Jung/Spielrein one, and it's in the latter that it completely misses the mark.
Once that sexual tension is released, the chemistry between these two practically ceases to exist and each scene feels like a dull exercise in the standard infidelity plot line. When the film reaches it's final act and there are scenes of forced attempts at emotional payoffs, it's impossible to feel anything because I wasn't able to feel anything from the relationship the entire time leading up to it. There's no real progression in their relationship on anything but a surface level and as a result the payoff falls completely flat.
It certainly doesn't help that, for all of the controversial eroticism in his career past, Cronenberg takes on the carnal moments of this story with the lazy banality of someone much inferior to himself. Several of the dialogue-driven scenes sizzle with a sexual intensity, but when matters are actually taken to the bedroom they are hit with a dullness that would be impossible to believe came from Cronenberg if he didn't have his name stamped on it. In a year that gave us Pedro Almodovar's The Skin I Live In, the most Cronenbergian film I've seen that didn't come from the man himself, it's unbelievably disappointing that this one is so removed from the standard this genius deserves. It's unlike anything he's done before, and I mean that in the worst way possible.
Rather flat and encyclopedic
7/10 I really expected more by this movie, I expected more pathos, but unfortunately it proved scarcely involving and too rational. Nothing to say against the perfect technical execution, and the good acting, but what is disappointing is the screenplay, which should have been, in my opinion, the most significant element of the picture. Dialogues are flat, too rationally aimed at conveying an encyclopedic definition of psychoanalysis, but incapable of conveying empathy towards any of the three main characters, Jung, Freud and Sabine Spielrein. In the end we do not get the depth of each character, and the subtlety of their relationship. Keira Knightely 's character is overacted, excessive,but in the end underdeveloped, just the prototype of a pathologically insane. Freud appears a weird old man, only caring for what the scientific community might think, but not as daring as we think he might have been, Jung is a pathetic unfaithful man, but with an inner fragility we cannot perceive fully. And the complexity of the relation analyst-patient as well as master-disciple never comes out. It's a movie that seems to promise plenty, seems to be always on the verge of revealing something, but never takes off, as if the director wanted to keep a distance from the handled subject, as if afraid of being swept away by the abyss of the human complex mind. Or maybe because the complexity is too great to be thoroughly revealed? maybe, but being this the reason, the result remains unconvincing.5 years ago
Sincere Effort, But the Cake Was Left Out in the Rain
6/10 What was the source of conflict which caused a gulf to form between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung? When we examine their personal and professional lives, what turning points shaped their theories? What were the storms which blew through the lives of Jung and Sabina Spielrein? These are some of the questions this film attempts to highlight, and in fact begins to touch upon.5 years ago
Some of the most scintillating moments of "A Dangerous Method" are sexually bracing. But the audience is left feeling a bit orphaned. Do these carnal scenes truly address the significant thematic questions?
Here's my main beef with this film: I wanted to see more time spent on the rigorous conflict between Freud and Jung. I have a sincere interest in the life of Carl Jung, but in the end, I was not sufficiently satisfied. Having said that, the production design, scenery, and costuming were absolutely wonderful.
The somber, instinctual undercurrents of "A Dangerous Method" can be a bit hypnotic. But because the script suffers, I cannot fully come under its spell. As the rolling credits came up, I personally felt a bit deflated, as if a sweet was torn from my curious grasp. Although I think most films would do well with a tighter edit, this movie could have used an additional 30 minutes of character and plot development.
I appreciated the qualities which Fassbender brought to Carl Jung. Vincent Cassel was right on the mark as the impulsive Otto Gross. Jung's insecure wife Emma was tenderly portrayed by Sarah Gadon.
Although Keira Knightley tried her best to portray Sabina Spielrein, there were certain scenes where her delivery seemed pushed. I have long respected Viggo Mortensen, but I was not fully convinced by his affected portrayal of Freud.
So, who would I cast as Sabina? Emily Mortimer, Helena Bonham Carter, or Rachel Weisz come to mind. And how about the part of Freud? Ben Kingsley, Dustin Hoffman, or Geoffrey Rush could have added a riveting twist to this role.
Is there a doctor in the house? I will leave that for you to decide.